West Somerset Express

The unofficial on line newsletter of the West Somerset Railway

Issue 43 – February 2006

Issue 36 - July 2005  Issue 37 - August 2005  Issue 38 - September 2005

Issue 39 - October 2005  Issue 40 – November 2005  Issue 41 - December 2005

Issue 42 - January 2006

West Somerset Express homepage

This page is part of the newsletter archive, photos of the year on the line can be seen on

WSR 2006  Spring Steam Gala 2006  Autumn Steam Gala 2006  GTE 2006



The West Somerset Railway - Heritage Railway of the Year 2005


Dates for your diary

31 January - WSRA Bristol Group meeting

6 February - WSRA Taunton Group meeting

11, 12, 14-16, 18-19, 26 February - 3 steam trains each way a day between Minehead and Williton

28 February - WSRA Bristol Group meeting


Regular services resume this month, Train Timetables on www.wsr.org.uk has full details.  Full line services start in March, see www.wsr.org.uk for running days and timetables.


Another Record Year

The West Somerset Railway carried 203,297 passengers in 2005, up from 2004's 192,364, yet another record year and one that demonstrates just how good an experience the railway is.


Lord Nelson

The overhaul of ex SR 4-6-0 850 Lord Nelson, which is expected to be "run in" on the West Somerset this year, has made major progress with the overhauled boiler having been returned to Eastleigh.


Spring Steam Gala 2006


The timetables for the Gala are now available, the two weekends are of "equal status" so no need to feel you are missing out if you can only come for one of them - though there's so much on offer that you may well want to come for the whole event!  The timetables and full details are on West Somerset Railway :: Spring Steam Gala 2006 , brief details below:


Already confirmed for the Somerset and Dorset Railway-themed Spring Steam Gala 2006 are SDJR 7F 2-8-0 nos 88 and 53809, LMS 4F 0-6-0 no 44422, BR Standard 5 4-6-0 73129, BR Standard 4 2-6-0 no 76079, LMS Black 5 4-6-0 no 45407, SR Bulleid 4-6-2 no 34067. A BR 9F 2-10-0 is also being sought. The BR Standard 4MT no 80136 is currently at Crewe for intermediate overhaul and could be back in time for the Gala but this cannot be guaranteed at this stage. So we are looking at fielding up to ten locos typical of the Somerset and Dorset. A number of the classic S&D double headed combinations are promised during the event. All subject to availability, of course.

The WSR Special Event Planning Team have secured the use of a full nine coach set of maroon Mk1 coaches from FM Rail - the Scottish Railway Preservation Society set - who will also be operating the associated Gala railtours with Past Time Rail. This has been obtained to provide extra seating capacity during what will be two very busy weekends as well as adding some extra authenticity to the event from the more usual WSR chocolate and cream stock.


It is proposed to rename the WSR stations after long-lost Somerset and Dorset Railway examples for the duration of the Spring Steam Gala event, following the similar and popular idea back in 1996. A draft list has been agreed, but maybe subject to some changes. The list at present is Bishops Lydeard will become Templecombe; Crowcombe - Shepton Mallet; Stogumber - Binegar; Williton - Evercreech Junction; Doniford - Henstridge; Watchet - Wincanton; Washford - Masbury; Blue Anchor - Sturminster Newton; Dunster - Midford; Minehead - Bournemouth West.


Streamlined “Battle of Britain” Pacific 34067 is due to arrive in Minehead on Saturday March 18th at the head of an excursion train organised by Past-Time Rail from London as the West Somerset Railway’s Spring Steam Gala gets underway. After working the train in the air-smoothed Pacific will be guesting for the rest of that weekend and between March 23rd and 26th as the WSR marks the 40th Anniversary of the closure of the Somerset and Dorset.

Another attraction for lovers of all things S&D during the Gala will be the opening of the Taunton Model Railway Group clubhouse at Bishops Lydeard station featuring a 4 mm scale model of Bath Green Park station.

Details from SEPT and http://www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk/


“Railways Round Exmoor”

In a new initiative to increase the attractions of Exmoor three “heritage” railways are joining forces in a joint marketing and ticketing venture for 2006..

The three railways concerned are the twenty mile long West Somerset which runs from Bishops Lydeard (near Taunton) and Minehead, the water powered Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway which links the twin towns, and the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway which has begun to rebuild the narrow gauge line which closed in 1935 and is presently running trains from Woody Bay station towards Parracombe.

The tickets are priced at £16.00 for adults and senior citizens and £8 for children aged 5 to 15. (this gives some reductions over the tickets for the railways if purchased individually). They can be bought from the railway’s booking offices or in advance from West Somerset Railway (Commercial), The Railway Station, Minehead, TA24 5BG from whom leaflets giving fuller details can also be obtained. Credit card bookings can be made by ringing 01643 704996

Details from http://www.west-somerset-railway.co.uk/

The other lines websites are Lynton & Barnstaple Railway and http://www.cliffrailwaylynton.co.uk



The line is always looking for new volunteers for just about any task you can think of, from gardener to guard via firemen, signalmen, ticket inspectors, buffet staff, station staff, p-way, S&T...


There is a "New Volunteers Day" on Sunday 9 April when prospective new recruits are invited to spend a day on the line – where they are introduced to key personnel, given a guided tour of the line and have the chance of learning more about the voluntary opportunities and what is involved.


You can join us at any time of year, if you would like to know more please write to: The Volunteer Co-ordinator, The Railway Station, Bishops Lydeard, Taunton, Somerset, TA4 3BX, visit www.wsra.org.uk, e-mail the West Somerset Railway Association or Tel: 01823 433856.  There's more about volunteering on a new site, WSR Volunteers .

If you can't give the time but would still like to support the WSR why not join the association?  Details from www.wsra.org.uk


Visiting Locos

The visitors at present are:

80136 BR Standard 4MT 2-6-4T which is on the line for a long stay - though at present away for maintenance.

5553 Pete Waterman's ex GW 2-6-2T small prairie


Resident Locos

The lines resident steam locos currently operational are:

6412 ex GW 0-6-0PT the WSRA's pannier tank

9351 WSR rebuild as a 2-6-0 mogul of 5101 class prairie tank 5193.

88 ex S&DJR 7F 2-8-0 (BR No 53808) is now in regular service, starting with many of the Santa Train workings.


5542 ex GW 2-6-2T small prairie has now left the line and is at the South Devon Railway for the next couple of years during which the driving wheel tyres will be replaced.  Hopefully she'll be back after this.


Large prairie 4160: The overhaul continues to progress well and is running close to budget so far. No predictions of a steaming date yet, but it can't be too far away. New livery will be BR lined green with late style crest.


7828 Odney Manor is in Minehead Works for her overhaul, there is an appeal for funds for this, see below for more details.  Small prairie 4561 is on display in the Gauge Museum at Bishops Lydeard while she awaits her turn in Williton Works - which it is hoped will be early 2006.  7820 Dinmore Manor, ex GW Manor Class 4-6-0, is also now awaiting overhaul as her boiler ticket has expired.


3850 - Is expected to arrive on the WSR on 2 or 3 February.  No 3850 will run with the same 3,500 gallon tender restored by DMLL to run behind the Group’s other engine, No 7820 Dinmore Manor. The tender has recently been repainted at Williton.


34046 Braunton continues to progress well with steaming anticipated in 2006.


Diesel Locos

The line's resident operational mainline diesel locos are:

Class 52 D1010 Western Campaigner - currently stopped for repairs

Class 35 Hymek D7017

Class 25 D7523 / 25 173

Class 33 D6566 / 33 048

Class 14 D9526

The other resident Hymek, D7018, is undergoing a major overhaul at Williton.

D6575/33057 has arrived on the WSR, initially as a source of spares for D6566, it will be assessed to see if it can be restored in time.

There's plenty of opportunities if you'd like to be involved with the DEPG's fleet, see their new web site at DEPG


Auto trailer 169 Project

The group who own 5542 have launched a new project, the restoration of ex GWR auto trailer 169.  See their web site www.loco5542.co.uk for further details of of this exciting development.  169 is a year older than 178 (which has recently been back on the WSR), slightly shorter but otherwise pretty much the same.  Restoration work on 169 has now started in earnest at Williton.


This Month's Photos...

...provide a foretaste of the Spring Steam Gala, as the theme is the Somerset & Dorset it has to start with an S&D loco, 2-8-0 No. 88 at Crowcombe Heathfield.

S&D 7F No. 88 at Crowcombe Heathfield


Next is ex LMS Black Five 4-6-0 45407 seen leaving Bishops Lydeard during the 2004 SSG

Black 5 45407 leaving Bishops Lydeard


Another view of 45407 in 2004, this time at Crowcombe Heathfield.

Black 5 45407 at Crowcombe Heathfield


Now for another returning visitor, BR Std 4 2-6-0 76079, also seen during the 2004 event at Bishops Lydeard.  On this occasion she was double heading a rebuilt Bulleid pacific, this year she may well double head an unrebuilt one, Tangmere.

76079 and 34027 at Bishops Lydeard


Another one of 76079 at Bishops Lydeard, this time by the water tower.

76079 by thw water tower at Bishops Lydeard


I hope to bring you more preview photos in the next issue, meanwhile a change of theme.  Ex GWR pannier tank 6412 has been on the line since March 1976, arriving shortly before the reopening of the first section from Minehead to Blue Anchor.  As the actual 30th. anniversary falls during the S&D gala it will be marked by an event later in the year but here's a photo of our longest serving loco at Minehead with  autotrailer 178.


These photos and many more are on West Somerset Railway and West Somerset Railway on the Web..

Note: you need to be connected to the Internet to view these photos. 


Funding Appeal for Odney Manor
The WSR Plc have launched an appeal to raise funds to help bring No 7828 Odney Manor back to "active steaming life" on the West Somerset Railway. Cash donations are required and for subscribers, a number of benefits are available. All donations of at least £20 will receive a commemorative Odney Manor certificate; for donations of £200 and £1,000, the certificate plus two tickets for the "Odney Manor Return to Steam Celebration Train" awaits, whilst for £1,000 donations the two tickets are First Class Dining seats plus a trip round the workshops. Top treatment for donations of £10,000 who receive four First Class Dining tickets on the Celebration Train, plus a full day Steam Engineman course driving and firing Odney Manor and arrangements to visit the loco during overhaul. For full details and conditions, look out for the leaflet or ring 01643 704996 for more details.


West Somerset Railway Association

Area Group Meetings:

Taunton Group:

In 2005, meetings will be held on the first MONDAY of the month (July & August excepted) at the usual venue – the Great Western Staff Association Club (at the north east corner of Taunton station) – starting at 7.45pm.


6 February:- "North American Steam" - Mike Squire

6 March:- "Freight and Steam: North and South" - Quentin Hawkes

3 April:- "Early Days on the West Somerset Railway" - Nick Jones


For the full programme for 2006 see West Somerset Railway Association, for further details e-mail

peter.darke@virgin.net .


Bristol Group:

The Bristol group meets on the last Tuesday of the month between September and May at the BAWA, Southmead Road, Filton, Bristol starting at 7.30pm for 7.45pm:-


31 January:- "Broad Gauge Journey - Part 1: Paddington to Carmarthen" with Brian Arman

28 February:- "Gone but not Forgotten" - Peter Triggs

28 March:- "Confessions of a Photographer with a One-Track Mind" - Peter Berry

25 April:- "Women Workers on the Railways" - Helen Wojtczak


For the full programme for 2006 see West Somerset Railway Association, for further details email.


Events for 2006

18-19, 23-26 March - Spring Steam Gala, with a Somerset & Dorset theme.

8-9 July - Days Out with Thomas.

5-6 August - Steam Fayre and Vintage Rally at Bishops Lydeard

16-17 September - CAMRA Real Ale Festival at Minehead station

5-8 October - Autumn Steam Gala.

21-22 October - Grand Trains Extravaganza

1-2 December - Dunster by Candlelight

30 December - Winter Steam Festival


Further details on these will be in future issues of West Somerset Express.


Groups on the line which would welcome support include:

West Somerset Railway Association

5542 Limited
Somerset & Dorset Railway Trust

Diesel & Electric Preservation Group
Dinmore Manor Locomotive Ltd
4160 Limited

Friends of Minehead Station
Friends of Blue Anchor Railway Museum

West Somerset Steam Railway Trust - icoleby@tiscali.co.uk

Telephone the West Somerset Railway on 01643 704996 for contact details of these groups.


WSR Links:

West Somerset Railway - an unofficial site full of information and photos of the West Somerset

West Somerset Railway Association - the Association is the main support group on the line.

The Official West Somerset Railway Web Site - for trains times and fares etc.

WestSomersetRailway Yahoo! group for discussion and chat about the WSR

WSR Volunteers - a new site with lots of info for those thinking of volunteering

West Somerset Railway, heritage steam and diesel trains - pages of photos of the WSR.

Diesel & Electric Preservation Group Ltd (DEPG) - the diesel group on the line.

West Somerset Express Archive.


The next issue is due 27 February 2006.





© 2006 Steve Huddy.  This newsletter is independent of, and is not officially supported by, the West Somerset Railway plc or any of the affiliated organisations, unless specifically mentioned in the appropriate article. All information is believed correct but neither the publisher nor the Railway can be held responsible for any errors.